Fall TV: Oh man, you guys remember ‘Revolution’?

Posted: September 26, 2013 in Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , ,

Previously, on REVOLUTION, a show NBC was so proud of that it decided to take a six-month break, then was surprised when everyone kind of forgot about it …

Rev1Billy Burke and The Cape were STILL punching each other and then telling each other they’re brothers; Google Pete wrote a special machine code to get the nanobots floating in the air (yeah, it turned out it was nanobots) to stop suppressing electricity, they killed off one of their two minority characters (the explosion lady), Gus Fring took control of the army, and Colm Fiore revealed himself to be an emissary of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES before launching nukes at Philly and Atlanta, then killing himself, because he was on 24 once and he knows how it is done.

And Tracy Spiradakos nearly, NEARLY managed to find a third facial expression, which she tried out after watching Fiore shoot himself in the head. It looked kind of, but not entirely, like mild annoyance mixed with being grossed out.

If all this seems unusually fresh in my memory, it’s because I watched the season finale on Netflix just now in anticipation of the season 2 premier. Wait, not anticipation. Cautious curiosity, I suppose?

See, over the summer, Eric Kripke – remember when this show was billed as being the brainchild of Kripke and J.J. Abrams? Well, like most shows with Abrams attached, he seems to no longer be attached – basically sided with the viewers that they had made a series of errors. Minor things like “The story is dumb” and “Who gives a shit about nanobots?” and “Wasn’t the whole point of this show to be a world without power, so why are there fucking helicopters everywhere?” and “Why is everyone so clean-looking?” 

Basically, Kripke admitted season one was a total failure, and season two would be a bit of a do-over. And to show he was serious, he recruited the always-reliable Ben Edlund (Angel, Supernatural) and the, um, pretty-uneven Rockne O’Bannon (Farscape) to the writing/producing staff. So I felt like if he was gonna take a second crack at this thing, why shouldn’t I?

Besides, second seasons are almost always better than the first. (Seriously, can anyone tell me if Grimm improved at all?) So, here we go, and I’ll be back in an hour…


Wow, “do-over” isn’t the half of it. This feels like almost an entirely new show. I stop short of saying you could watch this knowing nothing of the previous season, but jeez. Essentially, the cliffhanger of season one – nuclear bombs are headed to Philadelphia and Atlanta, the power came back on – led to the destruction of the first season’s two metropolitan areas AND their armies, and so wiped out the “civil war” aspect of the plot. And in trying to stop the bombs, Google Pete and Blonde Lady From Lost (who I will now call by their actual character names, Aaron and Rachel) shut off the power again FOR REAL, SERIOUS THIS TIME, so that’s enough of that now, too.

Revolution - Season 2

Oh yeah, and the dad from 7th Heaven is on here now, too.

So now it’s six months later and the character-arcs have kind of reset themselves to the start of the first season, only this time in a small Texas town (Willoughby, for you Twilight Zone fans): Aaron’s teaching kids while remarking about how nature is going nuts (apparently those stray nanobots in the sky are just making shit altogether weird now), and Miles is back to his take-no-shit-human-weapon setting (while also delivering the line of the night, telling the departing Tracy Spiradakos to “Keep your stupid to a minimum”).

The “Patriots” who, after 15 years hiding in Guantanamo Bay, have sailed back to America and reclaimed the grown-over White House, are starting to make the rounds as returning saviors, spiking Gus Fring’s bullshit meter and giving him a purpose after his wife’s presumed death in Atlanta left him near-suicidal. I don’t know who they stunt-cast as the exiled president but I’ll bet it’s fun.

OOH, maybe it’s William DeVane!

Tracy Spiradakos decided that weird third expression just didn’t work for her character, so now she’s on her own, with her odd cocked eyebrow and half-smirk at the ready, fucking bartenders and hunting for the now directionless The Cape/Monroe, who’s gone full-Wolverine, cage-fighting in a gas-lit town called New Vegas, which boasts ladies in underwear and nightly performances by “David Schwimmer, the last surviving ‘Friend’!”

See, it’s amusing touches like that – along with enthusiastic acoustic renditions of “Crazy Train” and “Tom Sawyer” from the various towns’ entertainers – that make me wonder if this wasn’t the show Kripke wanted to do in the first place, and has somehow shaken off all the network interference that made it focus on a grand heroic arc at the expense of doing anything interesting with its setting.

It even looks different. Part of this can be attributed to a change in shooting, from Atlanta to Austin, allowing for a refreshed visual tone. But it turns out Kripke wasn’t blowing smoke when he expressed his displeasure at how clean everyone looked. In this episode everyone looks a bit more sweaty, hair-clumped and scraggly (even the “sexy ladies” of New Vegas are really just, like, regular ladies in underwear, like in a Sears catalog). Obviously, still within acceptable network standards, but an effort was clearly made.

Whatever it was last season, Revolution: Season 2 is now aiming for a kinda-jaunty post-apocalyptic western with occasional fantastical elements – which was really what was promised in the first place. Is it worth checking out regularly? Probably not, especially as shows I’m more interested in return. But if this new shift in attitude continues, it might be a fun mid-winter binge-watch (at least, assuming it lasts that long), which is a lot more than I could say for season 1.

OK, I may pop in on Grimm’s second season to see how that whole stupid thing went now, too.

  1. I was upset with the death in the season premiere of Revolution until the end!

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